My Current Top Five Book Recommendations

Those who know me, know I read a fair bit. On an average month I read 2-5 books a month, typically one fiction and the rest are non-fiction.

This week I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite books on learning, which is one I think everyone should dip into (number 1 below). It then occurred to me “what other books do I think people should read?“. Hence, I thought I’d feature my current five book recommendations. Each of these dives into some aspect of learning in life. Picking even just one of these would – in my opinion – do everyone a world of good. I’ve included direct Amazon links for each of these books so you can purchase them quickly – pick one that interests you, and get stuck in. Continue reading “My Current Top Five Book Recommendations”

Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness

This week I was having a conversation someone about vocal robustness, i.e. being able to sing for long periods, and for sustained touring schedules.

I’ve written numerous articles on the primary causes why people lose their voice on a regular basis, through overuse, misuse, and abuse. I’ve got a full listing of related articles at the footer of this article.

A lot of people see vocal robustness as something wholly separate to vocal technique. Robustness is somehow “just one of those things“, and technique is something separate, primarily determining range, tone, ability to riff, etc. However, they are not at all separate. Vocal robustness is inherently a by-product of good technique, and here’s why… Continue reading “Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness”

The Danger of Labelling Yourself as One Thing or Another

Recently, I’ve had a lot of conversations – within the context of music and outside of it as well – about identity, especially when it comes to creating labels for oneself. Worry not, we’re not going into the weeds on this. It’s a huge topic, with many facets, each with far more nuance, psychology and depth than I could possibly bring justice to. Instead, we’ll be remaining firmly within the context of voice.

Singers, like every human on earth, want to find their identity – vocally speaking. They want to figure out who they are, what their voice is capable of, what they are good at, and cultivate artistry. This tends to manifest in overly definitive, declarative statements beginning with “I am “.

Moreover, people typically want to acquire their own ‘vocal manifesto’ ASAP in their vocal development, even if it is way too soon for them to ascertain such characteristics.

As such, often these labels are initially inaccurate, as less experienced singers frantically try to firm up a complete vocal identity for themselves. But even if these labels start out as accurate, why should they stay that way? As voices develop or change with time, these statements can themselves become inaccurate.

Which brings us to today’s topic: a danger of self-labelling is that singers cling so tightly to labels that they feel immutably define “who they are“, that they cannot let go of this identity even when it doesn’t fit where they are at. This can inhibit development massively, but even worse, it can be a huge source of unresolveable anxiety to the singer. Let me share a few examples. Continue reading “The Danger of Labelling Yourself as One Thing or Another”

Vocal Aesthetic: Find Singers That Reflect YOUR Voice

A while ago I wrote an article called 5 Reasons: Why singing is like clothing…. While the article is not the most read article on my site, it is (in my opinion) something that is critically overlooked by far too many singers.

When it comes to building your voice to be capable of whatever you throw at it, having an appropriate ‘vocal aesthetic’ in mind is crucial. This is to both build your voice to be the best it can be (now and in the future), and also to minimise otherwise avoidable frustration. It’s this topic that I want to revisit this week.

Why ONLY looking at range can lead you down a dead-end

As it happens, I was working with a particular client this week. They have a great voice, and they brought in a selection of songs to look at towards the end of their session.

Now, every single one of the songs they had brought in, was well within their range and existing style capacity. Even just based on where we were taking their voice during vocal exercises, the melodies of the songs were less demanding in their range. So the natural question most would ask is, which song did we pick?

Answer: None of them

We looked at another singer entirely, one we had discussed and tried previously, but a different one altogether. But why? Continue reading “Vocal Aesthetic: Find Singers That Reflect YOUR Voice”

Why Trying to Teach Yourself to Sing Doesn’t Really work

I had a call with a prospective client the other week, and they asked me whether it was possible for someone to teach themselves to sing. Now, whilst every single client I teach is “self-teaching” when they practice at home with our session recordings, whether singers can “DIY-build” their voice in isolation is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about… and also trying for myself, in fact.

Self-teaching is exactly how I started out. I started out with DVD courses, online lessons, even looking through the early days of Youtube for information, etc. Surely those avenues could work well for self-tuition, right?

Well, as I found out, self-building your voice really doesn’t work that way. In my opinion, this is for three primary reasons:

1) A guitar/piano is a finished instrument, the voice is unfinished and needs to be built

Continue reading “Why Trying to Teach Yourself to Sing Doesn’t Really work”

Five Reasons for Vocal Conservatism

Whichever way you lean politically, when it comes to music, I’m hopeful that the following five reasons will convince you to become a “vocal conservative*” – your voice, your music, and anyone you choose to sing for will appreciate you all the more for it.

1. Don’t write cheques your voice can’t cash

How many singers have you seen (either live or heard in a live recording) where they completely fail to deliver the money notes of their best-known songs? Or they change the key so radically that the song loses all the life and zest of what made the original so enjoyable? Or worse, they just come off the microphone and let the crowd scream it for them. Maybe you’ve even been that singer, worrying every single time about whether THAT note will come out right.

The studio enables one to stitch together a final version that could never be delivered live, but the real problem with this approach is that now the singer now has to weasel their way out of that conundrum every time they sing. For those of us singing originals or covers, we often set the bar too high and add songs to our set list that our voice can’t deliver… or at least consistently enough that we never fret over it. This leads to vocal problems, and a growing complex about whether or not you’ll “make it”. It’s not worth it. Continue reading “Five Reasons for Vocal Conservatism”